Thursday, June 07, 2001

Witness: Lies would kill U.S. visa for Demjanjuk

By Thomas J. Sheeran
The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — A man testifying for the second time in 20 years against a retiree accused of being a Nazi death-camp guard said Wednesday that lying on a U.S. visa application would have ruled out his emigration.

        Leo Curry Jr., 81, of Rockville, Md., testified at the U.S. District Court citizenship revocation trial of John Demjanjuk, 81, of nearby Seven Hills. Judge Paul R. Matia is hearing the case without a jury.

        Mr. Curry, who evaluated refugee applications to emigrate to the United States after World War II, identified Mr. Demjanjuk's 1950 application and said any misrepresentations, if known at the time, would have disqualified Mr. Demjanjuk from coming to the United States.

        “We didn't accept falsehoods under any circumstances,” Mr. Curry said. He also testified in the government's 1981 denaturalization case against Mr. Demjanjuk, who lost his U.S. citizenship but had it restored in 1998.

        The government again wants to revoke Mr. Demjanjuk's citizenship, alleging he lied about his wartime activities.

        Mr. Demjanjuk, a retired auto worker, was convicted and later cleared in Israel as the sadistic death camp guard “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka, Poland. The Justice Department now argues that he became a guard at other camps.

        Mr. Demjanjuk says he served in the Soviet Army, was captured in 1942 and remained in German prisoner of war camps. Mr. Demjanjuk, who denies aiding the Nazis, went by the name Ivan Demjanjuk in his Ukrainian homeland.

        According to Mr. Demjanjuk's emigration application on behalf of himself, his wife and his children, he worked on a Sobibor, Poland, farm from 1936-43 and at industrial and railroad jobs from 1943-46.

        The government alleges that Nazi-era documents showed a guard by the name of Ivan Demjanjuk with the same birth date and birthplace as the defendant served at the Sobibor, Okzow and Majdanek camps in Poland and the Flossenburg camp in Germany from 1942-44.

        Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Anne Johnson asked Mr. Curry if lying about work at a death or forced labor camp would disqualify a person from emigrating to the United States.

        “It would be reason for a declaration of ineligibility,” he responded.

        U.S. government guidelines barred anyone from emigrating if they participated in wartime atrocities, Mr. Curry testified.

        Under cross-examination by defense attorney Michael Tigar, Mr. Curry testified that he hadn't been instructed on how to handle applications from those who feared persecution if forced to return to the Soviet Union.

        The defense contends any misrepresentations on Mr. Demjanjuk's visa application resulted from fear that he would be persecuted by the Soviets, who often treated their former prisoners of war as traitors.

        Mr. Demjanjuk, who has kept a low profile since returning from Israel eight years ago, hasn't appeared at the trial.

        Bruce Menning, who has taught at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., testified that Demjanjuk statements from proceedings in 1979, 1981 and 1984 conflicted with the accepted history of Nazi-organized Ukrainian military units.


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- Witness: Lies would kill U.S. visa for Demjanjuk
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